what is coming is better than what has gone

POSTED: Mon May 07, 2018 10:01 pm

In his whole life he had never realized the power of fire.

In Onuba there had been the fire of the Lantern – and though Mateo had ignored for the most part the fanatics that had followed the Morenos and their light… In Nova Scotia it had taken on a new meaning.

Naji was a trove of stories and she shared with him the history of her people. She took great pleasure in sharing her culture with him, and he enjoyed the warm lilt of her voice – the way it rose and fell like the dunes of her homeland. She was of the first people and sometimes when she spoke he felt as if she felt her people’s history more than she remembered it. It was if it was flowing through her.

Onuba had its own stories, but Mateo felt them awkward to tell.

He did not know Onubas history. He felt no connection to the place of his birth save for his family’s name. Rita and Maribel had been Salcedo to their very core – and Lilia… well she had been a perfect foil to the rest of them. Naji had asked once about his story, though he felt that as he told it it was nothing but empty frames – a house of toothpicks that was filled with empty words.

She had sensed the boys discontent but said nothing.

Their camp was built around a fire and each night they would gather around it quietly – huddled together to discuss their days and the plans for the future.

The fire kept them in close quarters – and more and more they felt like a proper tribe.

Mateo lay sprawled alongside the fire, watching the snapping boughs as Naji stirred a cast iron pot that had been shoved into its coals. The campsite smelled wonderful and the boy propped himself up on his hands as he wrote in his notebook, ”Is it done yet?”

”Patience boy,” She was licking the wooden spoon cautiously as steam spun from its end, ”Soon.”

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Amanda
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POSTED: Thu May 24, 2018 2:05 am

Fire was an unnecessary danger at sea.

One would think not; surrounded by water on all sides, how could fire be the most dangerous thing? When only wood and iron nails separated you from the dark undertow, you preserved it at all costs.

She listened to Naji’s stories and took them with a grain of salt. Though there was history in them, and she appreciated that their oral annals would not be lost to this generation of newcomers, they were still just stories. Truth was scattered through the tapestry she wove, and much of the Bedouin culture was intriguing. Certainly, it was different from her own…

And yet, all people were the first in their own eyes.

Her grandmother, for instance, was the first Lady of the Isle, but she had not been the first woman. And now there was no isle at all, for they’d abandoned that place when her own father had offered a slight to some family whose name she no longer remembered.

Are we there yet? Rahab teased Mateo playfully, her eyes full of joy and youth.

Their destination was still as uncertain as their cause, though they all seemed to enjoy the cove. Its sheer cliffs and timberland offered something new at every turn, a different sight around every bend.

It does smell good, Armand agreed readily, his chin pillowed in both palms. He’d built the fire again, and pride in his work drove his words as much as anything else.

Malcriado. Rahab poked him with her staff and he glowered under her fierce smile… until, faltering, he seemed to find his own stubbornness amusing.

No, tu.

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Lorraine
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POSTED: Thu May 24, 2018 2:53 am

000

Recovery had been slow, and mostly for the reason that Tiamat refused to rest. As soon as she was able, she began to rise at her usual hour and don her usual armored attire, and attempt to do the things she was accustomed to doing until Naji caught wind of it and shooed her away. The horses would be cared for, they all insisted, and the hunting would be done. The days were growing longer and warmer, and the forests had begun to brim with spring's bounty. They had survived the winter, so she must too.

Despite all this, Tiamat kept on, even if it only meant wiping down equipment and watching the rest of them work. Though there was little left to do as an injured person, only when the sun returned to its watery bed did she think a day was finished. From her tent, she could hear that the group had assembled around the fire to hear Naji's tales. She slid the pieces of her leather armor off, and not for the first time paused to thumb at the hole where the Salsolan had stabbed her.

If they had survived, she had long thought, they would suffer. There was only grief to be found in their way of living.

Emerging for their evening gathering, she wore only the white asymmetrical dress that had followed her through the lands of Bedaya and into this new journey. A wind wound through the thread-bare ends and tapered around her dark hair, and she pushed this from her face as she came to sit among friends.

Family, perhaps, was a better word, because they'd long ago exhausted their reason to stay and yet they all remained. What other reason could bind them then, if not love?

Her eyes glimmered with the fire's light - she did not think on the flame, or the flame's worship, or the fear of it. Instead she saw the faces illuminated in its light, and basked in the warmth it cast upon them, and the smell of Naji's boiling stew.

Is it finished? She asked, unwittingly repeating Mateo's question. Her stomach made a small rumble, and she covered it with a hand and sheepish smile.

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POSTED: Sun May 27, 2018 3:37 am

Naji smiled while stirring, Impatient." Mateo rolled his eyes, burying his head in he crook of his elbow as he tugged the blanket over his shoulders against the evening chill so that it lay gathered beneath his chin. "Soon." The others trickled towards the campfire like moths to a flame, settling against rugs and furs to eagerly await their meal. Naji hummed softly, turning the meat in the bubbling cauldron until at last she pricked her ears. It was done.

Mateo was peeking at Tiamat through the shadow of his blanket, inspecting the familiar lines of her and wincing as he realized that she was still hurt. The healing was a slow process, but he had been too eager to help her recover, to take some of her duties away from her. She was fiercely independent and sometimes Mateo struggled with the way he handled her. Griffin was always there, learning and bouncing - flashing his big teeth and loud jokes.

He glared just thinking about it.

Luckily the man had not appeared for their supper. Perhaps he had fallen off a cliff. Or been eaten by a pack of wolves.

Mateo smiled pleasantly at the thought.

Naji arranged the bowls strategically and began to ladel out the contents of the cauldron, passing the steaming bowls around the circle. She blew on Armand's bowl, ensuring he had a good hold on it before moving to the next in the circle. Her large ears twitched as she knelt, and she too inspected Tiamat - the slant of her posture and the bandage hidden beneath her garment.

"It is-" Mateo burned himself almost immediately and yelped, "-hot." He began to blow on the hot contents beneath a stern glare from Naji. He nodded sagely,"It's hot."

They ate in companionable silence until Mateo glanced at Rahab, nudging her with his cloaked elbow.

"Why don't you tell us a story Ray," His face brightened as he slurped, "Make it a scary one."

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Amanda
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POSTED: Sun May 27, 2018 4:31 am

The coy-mutt instinctively reached for the bowl she preferred—it was smoother than the rest and made less sound when a spoon ran across its grain—but elected not to use a utensil. For reasons she could not explain, she was comfortable using tools for purposes such as building and wounding, but not eating.

She looked like a bear attempting to eat with toothpicks and was self-conscious of this fact.

With her foot she gently pushed Griffin’s designated bowl closer to the fire where it would remain warm; either the fire would die, and it would be cold, or he would return in time to eat it as it was intended. Her dislike waxed and waned with greater frequency than the moon, but she would not allow a member of their party to starve based on that distinction alone.

You’re birds of a feather, Crowed Rahab—apparently the only one to notice that both Mateo and Tiamat had asked the same question independently of one another—either that, or Naji simply elected not to mention it.

This was entirely possible.

Ray cared not a whit for tact in such matters and inflicted this lifestyle choice upon others at a moment’s notice.

Tipping the bowl to her mouth, she ate the volcanic stew readily despite its molten temperature. The meat was tender and what spices were available blended together in what she felt was an interesting but wholly acceptable way. It was a miracle Naji could do what she could with what they had; aside from one companionship, there wasn’t much to be found in their camp.

The lavender-eyed manchild made a request while she chewed, and Rahab was hard-put not to choke on her food. Glancing to the jackal among them, she frowned. Of the five of them (sometimes six, whenever Griffin elected to join them) she was by far the least capable storyteller; it struck her as odd, that he would ask this.

Nonetheless, she set her bowl of stew down.

One day both of Mateo’s eyebrows are going to rub together and make one big eyebrow, Rahab said, wiggling her fingers in a faux-menacing manner. or a third, if they like each other. The end.

Armand’s cupped-hand applause made her head hurt.

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Lorraine
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POSTED: Sun May 27, 2018 5:25 am

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Griffin's absence felt like a pointed statement, one which was underscored by the looks they gave her when she sat down. She tried not to think about how they still regarded her like some delicate thing, ready to break at a moment's notice. Her injuries had slowed her down for a time, but she would soon recover and be stronger for it. She sat with her back straight and elected not to cover her shoulders with a blanket. Tiamat hadn't needed anything to dampen the chill; her own coat had always been enough. This was her home, and the wind off the sea was a welcome feeling against her back.

Naji, a goddess for her patience, merely smiled at Tiamat's question. Like she had said, the food was soon ready and doled into portions for them all; despite her own eagerness, Tiamat waited for meal to cool while the others wolfed theirs down. It did not go unnoticed how Rahab slid the unclaimed bowl toward the fire, and she wondered on this with brief, unfettered interest.

Any time it was mentioned that she or Mateo were remotely compatible, her stomach stirred. Her eyes glimmered toward Rahab, and she lifted the bowl to her mouth. She couldn't tell if her face was hot from embarrassment, the fire, or the food. At the very least, there was something to prevent her from saying anything else that might entice further remarks. Like Rahab, she elected to forgo any utensils, sipping at the bowl instead like it was a cup of tea. If she could have it her way, she would chomp at it with her mouth open, but that had been considered indecent in both Onuban and Bedouin culture.

Mateo's request surprised her as well. Tiamat looked at Rahab with a question in her eyes, which was quickly answered by the story she told. She put down her empty bowl and laughed.

Where would the third one go? She wondered aloud, peering mischievously at the bundled boy beside her. A truly frightening tale. I might not sleep tonight, after all.

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